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Exit Interview by Patrick Donegan – Newsletter #20

By: Patrick Donegan

For some time, I’ve been looking for one “source” that curates modern takes on HR Tech, perspectives from the people who build it, and its impact on enterprise — something that’s tailor-made by professionals for decision-makers.

I never found it — so I decided to build it.

Every week, I’ll be sharing fresh insights on tech platforms, design, data, and the future of work — straight to your inbox.

My Thoughts

VC firms are finally relying on AI for investment decisions. In fact according to Gartner, AI will be involved in 75% of venture capital investment decisions by 2025, up from less than 5% today. Analysts are expecting it to replace decision-making based on “gut feelings.” 🤖🔥📈 As I see it, investing is not a choice between your “gut feeling” and AI analyses. Investors will always have instincts, but AI can demonstrate to investors how unconscious bias or false beliefs may be impacting how they feel. Relying on AI won’t stop investors from “voting with their gut” — it will, however, make them better informed about what their gut feelings mean. 

If you’ve been following my interviews in the past few issues (and even if you haven’t)— check out the third and final installment of my interview with Lluna CEO Jess Podgajny below. 🔥📱✊ In it, we discuss the innovative idea of designing work for life — instead of the other way around. Lluna is a platform that that gives employers the ability to offer, manage, and analyze personalized employment arrangements for employees. You can check out their website here

Tech Innovation at Work

This is an incredible example of entrepreneurs who successfully pivoted their business to respond to COVID-19. When restaurants shut down last April, Luke Holden and Ben Conniff, the cofounders of 12-year-old Luke’s Lobster, set up a direct-to-consumer online marketplace to bring freshly-caught seafood directly to people’s homes. 👩‍💻🐟🚚Conniff says: “It was terrifying for us, and terrifying on behalf of our whole fishery to think of the fact that 70% of what they take out of the ocean gets consumed in restaurants. We needed a way to address the fact that the place where people eat seafood is not a place where they’re going to be able to eat seafood. We needed [customers] to take [seafood] to their homes.” Customers can now order from their online store and receive a frozen delivery. You can read about how they revamped their business model and their pipeline here

Norway is testing a central bank digital currency. The world’s most cashless country is seeking to eliminate cash even further — transactions currently stand at roughly 4%. 🏦🤖 The Norwegian central bank had this to say: “Norges Bank‘s research into CBDCs has run for a good four years. A new element moving ahead will be technical testing combined with further analysis of the need for and the implications of introducing a CBDC.” China is currently leading the race on experimenting with central bank digital currencies, and the rise of crypto is only accelerating the push. 💰🔥 It’s hard to see the momentum stopping anytime soon, and it will be interesting to see whether the US follows suit. 


LinkedIn is staking its claim in the HR business. 💪💫 The social networking giant has unleashed its Learning Experience Platform (LXP), directly positioned to compete with Degreed, EdCast, and similar platforms. Users will get integrated content from Pluralsight, Harvard ManageMentor, O’Reilly, edX, getAbstract, Cornerstone, SuccessFactors, and Saba, as well as tools for curation, learning paths, branding, and customization. 📊👩‍💻🏆 This approach is a little different from other learning and skills platforms since LinkedIn has its own data to leverage, and it’s likely to be better at curating the lessons tailored to individuals and linking them with recruiters. The other thing to remember is that by launching LXP, LinkedIn will be looking to integrate its share of the HR pipeline —  recruiting, learning, engagement and performance — into one solution. With Microsoft Viva as a partner, it aims to offer an end-to-end HR experience.  

Building newsletters like this one every week requires a mix of curating, writing, editing and testing. I was interested to see how Axios Sports does it— apparently they use a tool called Notion. 📱💡  Templates are pretty straightforward, but the nice thing about Notion is that it collects and organizes your content calendars and notes together in one place. All work and planning happen in the calendar — so you can see past letters and future ideas laid out in front of you. If you’re creating a newsletter — it’s worth checking out the UX. 

The Changing Workplace

Dropbox Chief People Officer Melanie Collins shared how she and her team developed their Virtual First strategy. Dropbox set about redesigning how they work in order to optimize the large-scale shift to remote work. 👨‍💻🍷☁️ The redesign will also address the potential loss of community and connection and the mental health effects of isolation and burnout that comes with remote work. Collins describes it this way: “Virtual First is a construct for our future of work strategy. It’s the ‘what.’ But the real magic comes to life in the ‘how.’✨🙌  Dropbox has an opportunity to reimagine the concept of ‘work’ altogether that allows for performance, flexibility, individuality, and connection.” Dropbox was one of the first companies to announce the shift to work from home on a permanent basis. It’s good to see that they are taking the potential for a better remote-work experience seriously. 

Ford is retooling their headquarters for hybrid work. Like other companies, Ford shifted to remote work when COVID-19 hit, and now they’re looking to leverage digital tools in order to maintain the quality and engagement of workers that remain remote — versus those who choose to work from the office. 😎🏢 Their giant office in Dearborn, Michigan — known as the Glass House — has been undergoing a redesign for the past few years and the new changes will feature the introduction of IoT technologies. This will be supplemented by an increased investment in new software, virtual conferencing rooms, and other online spaces where workers can collaborate. 


In a similar vein, here’s an interesting virtual collaboration platform to check out. Playspace provides rooms that provide everything you need to work together. ✏️🖍️📋 They offer rooms loaded with collaborative surfaces to make working together easier. It’s not ready to deploy yet — but you can join the waitlist.

All About Data

Here’s an interesting item from the Premier League. ⚽🏆 Without an agent, midfielder Kevin De Bruyne worked with his father, a lawyer, and the management team at Roc Nation to negotiate a $100 million contract with Manchester City — that’s a 30% bump from his prior contract. Apparently De Bruyne used a “TransferLab,” a flagship product from Analytics FC that uses algorithms to calculate a player’s “contribution value.” The resulting data not only gave him a substantial raise — it also convinced him to stay at Man City. 


Google has made the biggest update to Google Earth since 2017. Now, you can view the planet in a new dimension — time. 🌍⌛ If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend checking out Timelapse in Google Earth. 24 million satellite photos from the past 37 years have been compiled into an interactive 4D experience. The environmental impact — melting glaciers, changes to forests, impact of warming temperatures — is remarkable to look at in detail. 


Finally, optimizing data capabilities should be a top priority for all media companies. 📱🌐 To help, my colleague at SEI New York Veronica Horner has shared seven strategies to help media companies become more data-driven organizations. You can check it out here.

Click here to subscribe to Exit Interview, a weekly email about tech platforms, design, data, and the future of work — straight to your inbox.

Patrick Donegan Chief Strategy Officer

Patrick Donegan

Chief Strategy Officer

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